The Dallas Cowboys have disclosed that Running Back Ezekiel Elliott is dealing with a calf injury sustained during Tuesday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens. His status for Sunday's Week 14 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals is not yet clear, but should Dallas even risk playing Zeke given where their season is at this point?
Though they did not have a true practice yesterday following their Tuesday night game, Dallas did release an injury report based on projected participation. Elliott was given a “limited” status and Mike McCarthy told media yesterday that he didn't see that changing much today or tomorrow.
Zeke is certainly not a guy who needs much practice and could be a game-time decision for Sunday. But should the Cowboys rush him back onto the field with their season nearly over?
After falling to 3-9 and seeing the Giants and the Football Team move to 5-7 with surprising road wins, Dallas' hopes of winning the NFC East were all-but-extinguished in Week 13. They would need to win three of their last four games and have Washington go 1-3 in these final weeks to overcome the margin and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
As winnable as their upcoming games against the Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, and Giants may seem on paper, this Cowboys team has given little reason to think they're capable of going on a run. And even if they did, Washington has lots of momentum right now and similarly easy schedule the rest o the way.
I wrote yesterday that it's time for Dallas to start focusing on the future. Sitting Elliott this week, and perhaps beyond, would better ensure his health for 2021 and give some other players more opportunities for experience.
Tony Pollard has already shown that he can be a dangerous, versatile weapon in the Cowboys offense. But what about playing as the primary back? So far Pollard's never had more than 16 touches in a single game or played on even 40% of the offensive snaps.
How about rookie RB Rico Dowdle? Though he's been active for 11 games this year Rico's only had three meaningless carries in Dallas' blowout loss to Arizona. His one highlight so far is a big kickoff return that helped the Cowboys nearly upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9.
Only the Cowboys know how much they're still trying to win games and keep their slim mathematical hopes of winning the NFC East alive. But the big picture shows a team with little left to play for and a lot riding on next season for its new head coach's job security. They should start making decision with the long view in mind.